Hal David Starlight Award

Born in St. Louis and raised in Maplewood, NJ, genre-defying, and 4x GRAMMY Award winning recording artist SZA released her long-awaited sophomore album SOS (Top Dawg Entertainment/RCA Records) on December 9, 2022, which earned RIAA Gold certification upon release. Instantly and universally met with acclaim, SOS debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and remained in the top spot for ten non-consecutive weeks. Amassing over 400 million streams in the US during release week, SOS became SZA’s first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (the second largest streaming week for a female artist and third largest of 2022 among all albums at the time), and dominated worldwide charts with No. 1 debuts in Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, and more.  While SOS also debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts, several tracks dominated song charts and playlists across digital service providers, with standout track “Kill Bill” earning SZA her first No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and Global 200 charts.

Currently RIAA-certified 3x Platinum, SOS includes features by Travis Scott, Don Toliver, Phoebe Bridgers and Ol’ Dirty Bastard; with production by Ctrl hitmaking collaborators ThankGod4Cody and Carter Lang, alongside Jeff Bhasker, Rob Bisel, Benny Blanco, Kenny “Babyface’’ Edmonds, Emile Haynie, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, Jay Versace, and more.

The launch of SOS fostered a series of new achievements for the dynamic global icon.  SZA peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Artist 100 chart as the most popular artist across all musical genres, and No. 1 on the Hot 100 Songwriters chart. SOS broke the record for the most weeks at No. 1 by a woman on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart, and the first R&B album to spend ten non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this century. SOS yielded four No. 1 hits at both Rhythm and Urban Mainstream radio - “Snooze,” “Kill Bill,” “Shirt,” and “I Hate U.”  SZA closed out 2023 as the most GRAMMY nominated artist of the year and edged out the competition by winning Best Progressive R&B Album, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance - “Ghost in the Machine,” and Best R&B Song - “Snooze.”

A multitude of critical praise complemented the remarkable success of SOS, inclusive of ranking No. 1 on several best-of lists in 2022 and 2023. Variety described the album as “cinematic in its scope and tone as it ripples with elements of folk, jazz, pop and ambient electronica and brings in undertones of even surf, trap, grunge and AOR rock,” while the Associated Press proclaimed “SZA proves in ‘SOS’ she still a voice of this generation.” Her first ever arena tour in the US and overseas sold out in minutes and garnered similar rave reviews. The New York Times called her Madison Square Garden headlining debut “vigorous, confident, theatrical and intimate – the sort of show that manages the rare trick of feeling both vibrantly communicative and also protectively insular,” while Billboard declared that the performance “delivered a message that she’s truly made a next-level step in her career.”

In 2017, SZA released her major label debut album Ctrl (TDE/RCA). Revered for its raw and honest lyrics, it landed at No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B Albums chart, No. 2 on the R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart. RIAA-certified 3x Platinum, the album received five GRAMMY nominations in 2018 and more than half the songs on Ctrl are currently certified multi-Platinum and Gold. Ctrl continues to remain on the Billboard 200 chart since its release and holds the record for the longest run for any Black female artist’s debut album.

An Academy Awards nominee, SZA has won over 40 awards since the release of Ctrl including her first GRAMMY Award in 2022 for Best Pop Dou/Group Performance - “Kiss Me More” with Doja Cat, Billboard Music Awards’ Top R&B Female Artist, BET Awards’ Best New Artist, BET Soul Train Awards’ Best R&B/Soul Female Artist and Best New Artist, MTV Video Music Awards’ Best Visual Effects for the “All The Stars” with Kendrick Lamar, and NAACP Image Awards’ Outstanding New Artist, among others. In 2018, she won NAACP Image Awards’ Outstanding Duo or Group for “All The Stars” with Kendrick Lamar and Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation for the Black Panther Soundtrack. SZA also received Billboard’s 2019 Women in Music Rule Breaker award and more recently named Billboard’s 2023 Woman of the Year, Webby Awards Artist of the Year, WSJ. Magazine’s Music Innovator of the Year and Variety’s Hitmaker of the Year.

To this day, SZA continues to set the standard on creativity and songwriting, while shattering records with over 10 billion streams worldwide across all platforms.